Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District and City of Austin staff discussing the location of the Zilker multiport well in July 2023.
The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (the District) will install two new scientific monitoring wells in south Austin this January – one in Zilker Park and another in Garrison Park. These wells will be used to collect data to improve our scientific understanding of the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer.
The Garrison well will be a standard monitoring well located on the northwest side of the Garrison Park Municipal Pool. This well will be used to collect Edwards Aquifer water level and water quality data. The Zilker well will be a multiport well located south of Barton Springs. Multiport wells are capable of monitoring multiple aquifer zones, providing a more in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the aquifer at hand.
Studying the entire vertical profile of the Edwards Aquifer at this site is important for understanding flow, dissolved oxygen levels, and other water chemistry features of groundwater in the Barton Springs area. This data will be valuable for monitoring variables that impact springflow and the health of federally listed endangered species – the Barton Springs and Austin blind salamanders.
The District and City of Austin are required by the state of Texas and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to protect these endangered salamanders, which rely on dissolved oxygen to survive. Severe drought and low water levels, as seen since 2022, decrease the amount of dissolved oxygen available in the water and result in increased stress levels in the salamanders. One of the benefits of this multiport well is that it will provide required data to see if it’s feasible to manually increase dissolved oxygen in the groundwater that discharges at Barton Springs.
During drilling operations, it is possible that sediment and fluids associated with drilling will enter caves and conduits feeding the springs. If this occurs sediment plumes could discharge from the spring outlet in Barton Springs pool. These drilling fluids and associated sediment are non-toxic and will not harm swimmers, fish, or salamanders. There will be noise during the drilling process, but this is temporary and there won’t be any additional noise after well drilling is completed. Each well will take about two to three weeks to complete.
District staff collecting data from an existing multiport monitoring well near Buda in December 2023.
District Communications Contact
- Shay Hlavaty, Communications & Outreach Manager
Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District is a groundwater conservation district charged by the Texas Legislature to work with well owners to conserve and protect the Edwards and Trinity aquifers and groundwater resources within its territory. The District covers 430 square miles in parts of Travis, Hays, and Caldwell counties; home to about 400,000 people.